Tony Ferguson: Michael Chandler used my punch to knock me out

Tony Ferguson: Michael Chandler used my punch to knock me out

Tony Ferguson has now watched the footage of his knockout loss at UFC 274, and a headache that followed the concussion stoppage is gone.

What remains is his will to win.

“There are a lot of mistakes that I can correct, and if I hadn’t felt that I had the energy or the will or the desire to be able to do it, I would have retired [at] the first drop,” Ferguson said Monday on MMA hour.

Ferguson said his first-round performance gave him the motivation to keep fighting despite the brutal knockout via a front kick from Michael Chandler. He is benched for 60 days by suspension from the sports commission overseeing the pay-per-view event, but plans to work on his physique and conditioning while awaiting clearance.

The other day, Ferguson said he walked into a boxing gym and couldn’t resist the urge to hit the heavy bags.

“Chandler didn’t have too much response for anything I threw in the first round, man,” he said. “So I’ll be real with you, I’m still hungry. I’m going slow – I’m 60 days old [mandatory] vacation, which is pretty cool, and we’ll take it from there.

“He had a shot or two, but he didn’t like the elbows,” Ferguson added later. “I got headbutted a few times, which was cool, because it’s a fight, it’s what you do. The ref said what to do, and I was trying to throw the cage, and he was like, ‘Get your fingers out of the cage.’ It was a great battle between two athletes who are at the highest level of the game.”

The loss was Ferguson’s fourth straight since a TKO over Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 marked his 12th straight win and set up a long-awaited bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The title fight was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic on his failed fourth booking.

Ferguson’s memory of what happened is still spotty. He doesn’t remember being in the octagon afterward, or UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell’s words of encouragement in the arena. He can only tie the result to the wrong time and the wrong fate.

“I just remember not putting pressure on and trying to figure that out,” he said. “I have to go back and listen to the commentary and the audio from around the corner, but my wrestling coach said something about the pressure, and I don’t know, it was just completely different. God told me I wasn’t ready, pretty much.

Still, Ferguson said he felt “incredible” and didn’t regret anything that happened during the fight.

“There are a lot of things, obviously, that I can go back and try to fix,” he said. “But props to Michael Chandler for using my fucking move to knock me out. This shit doesn’t happen every day.

The front kick may not be Ferguson’s signature in the same way as Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and now Chandler. But next time he said he would work on his striking game a lot more with a new team.

Right now, that means training in training for the first time in three years.

“I don’t really need to have this, but I want to have it,” he said. “The desire and the will is there to hit people again and get hit and not feel bad about hurting people again, because it sucks. You can ask Rose Namajunas – I guarantee she doesn’t like hurting people. And it’s kind of crazy, because we’re in the injured game, but when you get to that high level and you have a soft heart for a lot of people, it’s hard to go out there and make sure let that happen.

The fight will help refine the timing that went wrong, he said, but it will also put him in the mindset he needs to deal the kind of damage he’s taken.

“When I started I was hungry for that, and I found that same hunger again, and there’s no bulls*** on that,” he said. “I want to go to training and I still want to do some damage, not to hurt people, but to get better.”

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